The Paci Habit Is A Hard One To Break, But It's A Risk I'm Willing To Take For My Sanity

by Clint Edwards
Pacifier Addiction
by_nicholas / iStock

My 2-year-old daughter won’t go to sleep without a binky in her mouth and one in each hand. She won’t go to the store without a binky. She won’t get in the tub without one. She won’t eat dinner without following each bite with a pull from her binky. She is, 100%, addicted. More so than I’ve ever seen with any of our other children.

I have three kids, ages 9, 7, and 2, and each one has been a binky kid.

But around year two, binky life gets a little dicey. We have binkies everywhere: in the van, the kitchen, the bathroom. We have a hidden stash of binkies in the pantry. Or at least we do now. It used to be in the drawer next to the silverware, but she found out about it, and nearly ripped the front of the drawer off trying to get at them, so we had to move the stash. And let me just tell you, finding a custom replacement drawer box was no easy task. It was costly too.

The scary part is, we are going to have to break this addiction in the next year or so, and I’m not looking forward to it at all, because I know exactly what it looks like. We’ve learned a few tricks over the years to get our kids off the binky. Most of it was through trial and error. Mostly error. At first, I foolishly tried to reason with my oldest, Tristan, which was the first step toward failure. He was 3, and I actually sat down next to him on the sofa and gave him a lecture about how you have to give up on childish things from time to time: “It’s just part of growing up.”

He looked at me like I wasn’t speaking English. But at the time, I felt confident that what I said would soothe the wildest of beasts, so I took the binky away from him, assuming that he must have understood. The kid was inconsolable for a solid 45 minutes until I broke down and gave it back. We tried dipping his binkies in vinegar, and he ultimately developed a taste for vinegar. We tried only giving him a binky at night as a way to wean him off, but that turned him into an asshole all day.

What eventually worked was stringing it to a doorknob. He could stop by and get a hit from a binky every now and then, but ultimately had have to leave the binky behind. And I will admit, he was a determined little bugger. Once he realized he couldn’t break the rope we used (rest assured, he tried), he spent a solid day sitting in the hallway with the binky in his mouth, his face a sad soft mix of terror and withdrawal. Ultimately, though, after a month, we broke the habit.

With my middle daughter we cut the ends of the damn things, making it difficult to suck on them, and that seemed to fix the problem. But just like with my son, she was a total jerk for a week or more. It was almost like there were toxins leaving her body, and we all had to hear about it.

With both kids, there was a moment or two during the weaning process when I cracked. I couldn’t handle the screaming anymore, so I handed them a binky and suddenly the child went into a relapse and all the work we’d done was for nothing and the child was, once again, a full on binky addict. And in those moments, I honestly wondered if we’d ever fully break the habit. I started to imagine my child in high school, still clinging to their binky until peer pressure finally broke the habit, because obviously I wasn’t strong enough.

But even with all of this foreknowledge, I still didn’t hesitate to give my third and final child a binky. And every time I see a child in the store with a binky, I know that there are other parents with my same problem. I’m not sure what this says about us binky parents. I know that there are several parents out there who are staunch anti-binky advocates. They are the ones who stare at children at the store happily sucking on a pacifier and give their parents a judgmental look.

Ultimately, though, non-binky parents don’t understand the power of a binky.

Anyone who has broken a binky addiction sings the same tune of late nights and screaming and the realization that you created a monster that can only be soothed by a small strip of plastic in their mouth. But thinking back to those first couple of years with my children, I have to say, it is totally worth it to have the one “go-to” comfort item. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as helpless as a parent as I do with a baby, and a binky, more than anything, gives you a small sense of control. It’s the immediate ability to soothe your child. To be able to “put a cork in them.”

It’s satisfying enough that the moment you have a new child, you forget about how difficult it is to break the binky addiction, and focus on what’s right before you, a screaming baby. I don’t regret a moment of seeing those round little faces with a pacifier sliding in an out, the child content and wonderful and, most of all, silent.